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Why Immunizing Your Pet is Important for Their Health

Vet holding a fluffy dog before its immunization.

In support of National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance held in August, Naples Coastal Animal Hospital wants every pet owner to know the importance of immunizing your pet as part of preventative care. Pet vaccinations play an essential role in protecting your furry family member from certain diseases, allowing them to live a long, healthy life.

Understanding Pet Vaccines

A vaccine contains a harmless form of the pathogen that causes the disease your pet is being immunized against. It’s designed to trigger protective immune responses and prepare the immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. If your pet is ever exposed to the real disease, their immune system will recognize it and fight it off effectively or reduce the severity of the illness. In some cases, periodic revaccination is necessary to remind the body to produce enough protective antibodies.

Protection for Your Pet’s Health

Immunization is crucial to the health of your pet. It protects your pet from many potentially deadly diseases. Like humans, pets should be vaccinated at a very young age due to their weak immunity. As they grow, young pets require help from vaccines to build resistance to disease as the immunity passed from their mother’s milk wears off. Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations, usually 3-4 weeks apart, to provide optimal protection against diseases in their first months of life. The final vaccination is generally administered at about 4 months of age, but the schedule may be different depending on a pet’s unique risk factors.

Adult pets also need booster shots to stimulate their immune system and maintain immunity. In addition to preventing your pet from contracting illnesses, immunizing your pet can also prevent the spread of diseases to other animals and people. Immunization will prevent expensive treatments and long periods of quarantine if your pet contracts diseases.

It’s important to ensure there’s no gap in vaccination as it may leave your pet vulnerable to infection. Staying up to date on routine vaccination is imperative, even for indoor pets. Remember, when it comes to your pet’s health, prevention is better than treating sickness or disease.

Types of Pet Vaccines

Pet vaccines can be core or non-core. The core vaccinations depend on your geographical location since the exposure risk to some diseases is higher in some areas. Additionally, almost all states mandate rabies and certain vaccinations for cats and dogs. Non-core vaccines are based on your pet’s age, breed, family/genetic history, lifestyle, risk of exposure, and overall health. While the diseases they protect against are rarely fatal, they can cause serious complications for your pet. Therefore, you shouldn’t skip these if your pet has a compromised immune system or any chronic health conditions.

Core Vaccines for Dogs

  • Rabies
  • Distemper
  • Parainfluenza
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Adenovirus (Canine hepatitis)

Non-Core Vaccines for Dogs

  • Leptospirosis
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Lyme disease
  • Influenza
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Kennel cough

Core Vaccines for Cats

  • Rabies
  • Feline rhinotracheitis
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline panleukopenia
  • Feline distemper

Other Vaccines for Cats

  • Feline leukemia (FeLV)
  • Chlamydia
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Bordetella
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)

Some vaccines are given one time, while others require a sequence of doses. However, your vet will recommend the type and best schedule to keep your pet healthy.

Risks Associated with Vaccination

Pet vaccinations carry very little risk and since they stimulate the pet’s immune system, they can create mild and short-lived symptoms. These may include soreness and swelling at the injection site, decreased appetite, lethargy, and fever. It’s important to inform your vet if your pet shows any adverse reaction to a vaccine so they can get treatment.

Let Us Help Your Pet Live Healthier, Happier, and Longer

Immunizing your pet is the best protection and prevention against contagious and potentially fatal diseases. Here at Naples Coastal Animal Hospital, we are always ready to help you understand pet vaccinations and develop a vaccination schedule based on your pet’s age, breed, current health status, exposure to other animals, and other factors. The happiness and long-term health of your furry family member is our primary goal. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.